WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been 11 years since the deadly EF-3 tornado tore through western Massachusetts killing three people and injuring 200 others.
A tornado watch was initially issued at 1 in the afternoon on June 1, 2011. By 4 p.m. a severe thunderstorm had developed over western Hampden County and the watch was upgraded to a tornado warning.
It left a path of destruction nearly a half-mile wide for more than 38 miles from Westfield to Charlton. Three people were killed and 200 others were injured. More than 300 houses were destroyed, 1,400 homes were damaged along with 78 businesses. Four schools were closed for the remainder of the year and 10,000 acres of woodlands were leveled.
In all, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance reported $175 million in damage claims. and then-President Obama issued a Major Disaster Declaration.
Roughly 200 of those damaged homes were in Springfield specifically in East Forest Park. The tornado absolutely leveled the neighborhood and lifted homes right off their foundations. Cars were turned upside down and trees crashed down making the roads in the area unrecognizable.
The neighborhood has undergone major changes since then. Homes are being rebuilt and trees have been replanted on Pennsylvania Avenue. People picked up the pieces of their lives and 11 years later the rebound and recovery from the June 1st tornado continues but it was a day that for those who lived through it won’t ever be forgotten.